Australian Open: Frances Tiafoe downs Grigor Dimitrov in epic fourth round thriller

On his 21st birthday, America’s Frances Tiafoe produced a sensational performance to defeat former world No.3, Grigor Dimitrov and advance to the first Grand Slam quarterfinals of his career at the Australian Open on Sunday.

Tiafoe stunned Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6(6), 6-7(1), 7-5 in three hours and 40 minutes to become the first American male since Andy Roddick in 2010 to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

Frances Tiafoe celebrates his victory over Grigor Dimitrov.

The American, already emotional, took a while to steady himself after his victory, pacing the court and shaking his head, while the crowd broke into a rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

“It means the world. I worked my ass off, man,” an emotional Tiafoe said. “I told my parents 10 years ago I was going to be a pro and change my life, change their life. Now I’m in the quarters of a slam at 20 years old – 21 years old – I can’t believe it, man.”

Tiafoe, who notably, defeated fifth seed, Kevin Anderson in the second round, will now take on second seed, Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. Nadal defeated Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-1, 7-6 to advance, and has yet to drop a set so far. Taifoe, however, isn’t fazed by that and sounded a note of warning.

“He better get ready,” the young American said.

Elsewhere in the women’s field, 2008 champion, Maria Sharapova bowed out in three sets to home favourite, Ashleigh Barty. Sharapova, who showed glimpses of her best form and had played impressively en route to the fourth round, failed to contain the extra firepower of the Aussie as she was beaten 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Ashleigh Barty, who gave up cricket to focus full time on tennis, celebrates her victory over 5-time Grand Slam winner, Maria Sharapova.

Victory for Barty saw her become the fourth Australian female quarterfinalist at Melbourne Park, and the first since Jelena Dokic made a run to the quarterfinals ten years ago.

Next up for the Aussie is two-time Grand Slam winner, Petra Kvitova, who dropped only three games in a 6-2, 6-1 mauling of Amanda Anisimova.

Meanwhile, second seed, Angelique Kerber suffered a shock 6-0, 6-2 defeat to America’s Danielle Collins in 56 stunning minutes.

Collins, ranked 35th in the world, had not won a single Grand Slam main draw match until this event, but has been in devastating form so far, dropping only a set en route to the quarterfinals.

Danielle Collins came through against Angelique Kerber.

“I may not have won a Grand Slam match before this tournament, but I gotta tell you I think it’s going to keep on happening,” said Collins. “I hope to have many more of these.”

For a place in the semifinals, she will face Sloane Stephens or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

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